Agadir, Morocco (SportsNetwork.com) - Richie Ramsay carded a 1-under 71 in Saturday's third round and the Scotsman still holds a share of the lead heading into the final day of the Trophee Hassan II.
Ramsay, who was a second-round co-leader alongside Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Oliver Farr and Richard Green, finished 54 holes at 7-under-par 209. Joining him in the lead was Andrew McArthur and Romain Wattel, both of whom shot 5-under 67s at Golf du Palais Royal on Saturday.
Of the three leaders, only Ramsay has been victorious on the European Tour. He has two career wins, with the last one coming at the 2012 European Masters.
It is a crowded top of the leaderboard as 16 players are within three shots of the leaders.
Needing a win in order to qualify for the Masters, George Coetzee shot a 71 and is just one back at 6-under 210. He is tied for fourth with Emiliano Grillo (67), Soren Kjeldsen (69), David Horsey (69), Jaco Van Zyl (70), Kevin Phelan (70) and Richard Bland (71).
Cabrera-Bello and Farr both shot 2-over 74s and they are tied for 13th at 4- under. Green struggled on his way to a 4-over 76, tying him for 30th at 2- under 214.
Ramsay, who shot the low round of the day on Friday, held at least a share of the lead throughout most of day three. He did not get off to a great start, however, as the 31-year-old fell out of the lead with a bogey at the first.
Ramsay rebounded quickly as he made three birdies in a four-hole stretch from three. That pushed Ramsay up to minus-8 and into a tie for the lead with Horsey at the time.
A bogey on nine was erased by a birdie on 10 and Ramsay held firm at 8-under. Again Ramsay traded a bogey on 13 for a gain on 14 and followed that up with a trio of pars from 15.
With a 1-shot lead heading into the difficult par-4 last, Ramsay found the trees on the right and wound up tripping to his fourth bogey of the round, which dropped him back into a tie for the lead after 54 holes.
"My ball striking at times was excellent, I just couldn't make any putts," Ramsay said. "I didn't really make anything out there today. I'm pleased to be in the hunt. I'm a fraction frustrated as I played some great stuff out there."
McArthur, starting the day four shots behind the leaders, did not get going until late in his round as he began with a bogey on two and a birdie on three. A gain on seven was McArthur's only other mark besides par on the front side.
After making the turn, McArthur drained back-to-back birdies on 10 and 11. He later holed an eagle on the par-5 15th and followed that up with a gain on 16. All of a sudden McArthur was tied with Ramsay for the lead.
However, like Ramsay, a bogey at the last saw McArthur fall back to minus-7 to finish his round.
"I felt pretty good, it just sort of crept up on me. I am delighted," said McArthur. "I have accepted I am not striking it as I want to but I have found something to get it in play and try and get it pin high, hole a few putts and you never know."
Wattel also did not come on until late as he played his first nine holes at 1- under with three birdies and two bogeys.
After a bogey on 12 dropped Wattel back to where he started the day, he turned on the jets with three birdies in four holes from 13. He then poured in an eagle on the par-5 17th and just like that Wattel was up to minus-7. He finished up with a par at the last.
"It was a thrilling back nine. It is always nice to finish the round like that," Wattel said. "I was 2-under quite quickly then I had a few mistakes. I had a good putt on 12 for bogey and that was the key today. After this putt I still have confidence even if it was only for bogey. You have to be patient here and on the good side every time."
NOTES: Ramsay's other victory came at the 2010 South African Open Championship ... In seven events this season, Wattel has missed the cut four times and has notched a top-10 finish with a tie for seventh at the Hero Indian Open ... McArthur's lone start on tour this season was at the Joburg Open, where he tied for 18th ... A win would push Coetzee, the Tshwane Open winner two weeks ago, inside the top-50 in the world, qualifying him for the Masters.